Dos Pueblos Charger Theatre (DPTC) will present the iconic musical West Side Story, at 7 p.m. April 5, 6, 12, 13 and 2 p.m. April 6 and 13 in the Elings Performing Arts Center, 7266 Alameda Ave.
Tickets are $10 for students/seniors; $15 for general admission. Due to mature themes, the show is not recommended for small children.
West Side Story is a timeless classic that seems to grow more relevant each year since its September 26, 1957, Broadway opening.
Its themes of racial reconciliation, immigration, treatment of women, and violence are mirrored in today’s immigration debate, and the Me Too, Black Lives Matter, and March For Our Lives movements.
Although Dos Pueblos Theatre Company’s cast is one of the most diverse in its school’s history, they have teamed with Just Communities to delve deeper into some of the relevant social issues.
Mitzi Perez taught a workshop on racial reconciliation where students examined their own biases.
Andrea Medina initiated a Puerto Rican pen-pal project between cast members and Puerto Rican students to facilitate greater awareness of current Puerto Rican issues. Some cast members participated in a day-long forum with Just Communities, where they interacted with local policy experts and decision makers.
West Side Story’s diverse cast consists of some 50 students, some with several years experience and others who are participating in their first show.
“I’ve wanted to produce West Side Story ever since I began teaching at Dos Pueblos 19 years ago, but I’ve been waiting for the right combination of a Tony, Maria, Anita and Bernardo,” said Clark Sayre, the show’s director. “This year we’ve finally found that.”
Nolan Montgomery (Tony) has recently had the distinction of being called back three times for a role in the Broadway production of Dear Evan Hansen, his last audition involving working directly with the director. Montgomery achieved this by auditioning at an open call in Los Angeles in November.
To prepare for the possibility of Montgomery leaving for Broadway, Sayre has cast Matthew Kleeburg as the Tony understudy.
“It’s rare enough finding one Tony in a year, let alone finding two extremely talented tenor triple threats,” Sayre said. “I feel confident we’d still have a very strong show with Matthew at the helm.”
Nevaeh Harrington (Maria) previously played a role in Almost Maine at Dos Pueblos.
Isaac Hernandez (Bernardo) played the lead (Juror 8) in DPTC’s fall production of Twelve Angry Jurors, and a featured role in DPTC’s National Disney High School pilot of Newsies.
Klarissa Neumann is playing her first role in a DPTC production, although she has been a member of Dos Pueblos’ award-winning Song Cheer Squad.
Having worked with West Side Story’s lyricist Stephen Sondheim and producer Hal Prince, two of Broadway’s most influential figures, Sayre believes students need to know how West Side Story fits into the overall history of Broadway Musical Theater from Call Me Madame and Wonderful Town through to the famous Prince/Sondheim collaborations (Company, Follies, Sweeney Todd) up to more current hits such as Into the Woods, Evita and Phantom of the Opera.
Sayre also brought in West Side Story original cast member and swing Julie McLeod (who covered every female ensemble member) to speak with the cast about her experiences 60-plus years ago and shed light upon Jerome Robbin’s original vision for the show.
Tickets may be purchased at the door or by visiting dptheatrecompany.org. For more information, email the show’s producer Taylor Vaughn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Taylor Vaughn for Dos Pueblos Theatre Company.